InnovateUK – Implementing Whole Life Carbon In Buildings

The UK’s innovation Agency, Innovate UK has awarded funding (co-funding totaling £251,370) to “Implementing Whole Life Carbon in Buildings” (IWLCIB), a consortium project lead by Sturgis Carbon Profiling. This project was submitted as a proposal to the Building Whole-Life Performance competition and aims to provide consistency in Whole Life Carbon assessment across the UK’s built environment.

This has huge implications for the way buildings will be designed, built and used. A successful conclusion of this project will mean that carbon emissions reduction in the built environment will no longer be restricted to operational energy emissions but will include the embodied emissions from material selection and sourcing, the construction process and a building’s life cycle. This holistic or ‘whole life’ approach to carbon emissions measurement will change the way buildings are designed and what they are made of. The result will be to progressively reduce the built environment’s carbon footprint and the consequent beneficial impact on climate change.

A ‘whole life’ carbon approach will specifically encourage: Recycling and the reuse of existing fabric and material; Designing for flexibility and reuse; Resilience and long-term thinking; Improved resource management and supply chain efficiency; Improved understanding of the relationship between operational and embodied emissions; Reliable carbon emissions comparisons between buildings. To optimize carbon emissions reduction, at the design stage designers will need to think in more detail about the nature of the materials they are using, and about how their buildings can be adapted, reused, dismantled and recycled in the future.

There is already significant demand for embodied and whole life carbon assessment; however to date this has been held back by differences in interpretation of the existing standards (CEN TC 350: BS EN 15978 etc) by existing practitioners and interested bodies. IWLCB will enable reliable and comparable assessments, encouraging accessibility and UK wide rollout.

The Consortium includes the following:

– Sturgis Carbon Profiling – Team Leader and Carbon Analysis

– Faithful & Gould – Carbon Analysis

– Sustainable Business Partenrship – Carbon Analysis

– Arup – Expert Review

– Cambridge University – Academic Review and Assessment

– RICS – Expert Review and Certification

– Land Securities – Property Industry Advisor

– Laing O’Rourke – Construction Industry Advisor

Supporting Organizations:

Argent, Derwent London, Grosvenor, Legal and General, Marks and Spencer.

Project summary

Carbon emissions from the built environment are a paramount factor regarding climate change and resource efficiency. The construction industry has so far mainly been focusing on emissions from the operation of buildings, disregarding any further carbon incurred over the life cycle of projects (Whole Life Carbon WLC) like carbon embodied in the building elements and emissions due to maintenance. Recent work in this field has verified the importance of WLC and has set the theoretic and methodological bases for WLC assessments. However the application of these principles in actual carbon calculations lacks consistency with the results differering substantially between practitioners & WLC is therefore not widely adopted. The project seeks to address this by forming a team of LCA experts & propert stakeholders to work out a clear and usable practical framework for WLC assessment & carbon certification of buildings. This will standardise WLC implementation across the construction industry and eliminate discrepancies. Meaningful WLC comparisons will then be enabled, competitiveness in the sustainability industry will be stimulated and carbon reductions encouraged.

Editor’s Notes

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit

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